New Delhi: Almost 6 months after putting the process on hold, India is set to resume export of COVID-19 vaccines under the Union government’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative from next month.
“India will be resuming export of vaccines under Vaccine Maitri in order to fulfil the commitment of India towards COVAX, in line with our motto Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The surplus supply of vaccines will be used to fulfil our commitment towards the world for the collective fight against Covid-19,” Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday.
COVAX is co-led by Gavi — Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO (World Health Organisation) — and targets equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, with the focus being especially on low and middle-income countries.
There was no official ‘ban’ on vaccine exports, but the Indian government stopped sending vaccines to other countries after COVID-19 cases started surging during the second wave of the pandemic in India.
India rolled out vaccination process on January 16, 2021, for healthcare and frontline workers, before opening up for senior citizens and over-45 people with comorbidities from March 1 and for everyone above 45 years from April 1.
With India sending 66.4 million Covaxin and Covishield doses to 93 countries as commercial supplies, grants and supplies to COVAX till April 2021, the government faced widespread criticism for exporting vaccines. Especially as there wasn’t enough supply to meet the growing demand at home, March-April on wards.
The government then took a call to halt vaccine export for the time being.